RICE: Simple prioritization for product managers

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Prioritization is a perennial challenge when building a product roadmap. How do you decide what to work on first?

If you’ve put the effort into brainstorming new ideas, finding opportunities for improvement, and collecting feedback, you’ll have a solid product roadmap full of good ideas. But the order in which you tackle those ideas deserves just as much thought. You need to take the time to prioritize well.


So why is prioritizing a product roadmap so difficult? Let me count the ways:

It’s satisfying to work on pet ideas you’d use yourself, instead of projects with broad reach.

It’s tempting to focus on clever ideas, instead of projects that directly impact your goals.

It’s exciting to dive into new ideas, instead of projects that you’re already confident about.

It’s easy to discount the additional effort that one project will require over another.

Even if you make it through this mental minefield intact, you’re left with the tough task of consistently combining and comparing these factors across all project ideas.

Thankfully, you don’t have to do this in your head.

RICE, short for Reach Impact Confidence and Effort is a nice framework to follow for prioritizing your product's roadmap. And Sean does a great job of breaking down how to measure all of these factors so make sure you read the rest of his post.

For a short summary, RICE should be looked at as:

  • Reach: How many customers will this project impact over a single quarter?
  • Impact: How much will this project increase conversion rate when a customer encounters it?
    • Massive: 3x
    • High: 2x
    • Medium: 1x
    • Low: 0.5x
    • Minimal — 0.25x
  • Confidence: How confident are we about the optimistic estimates for reach, impact, and effort?
    • High confidence: 100%
    • Medium confidence: 80%
    • Low confidence: 50%
    • Moonshot: 20% or less
  • Effort: Estimate the total amount of time a project will require from all members of your team: product, design, and engineering. Estimated as a number of “person-months”, or the work that one team member can do in a month.

Your RICE Score is then achieved by multiplying Reach, Impact and Confidence and dividing the result by Effort or R * I * C / E. This will help you see which items should have a higher priority and which should be left on the backlog for later.